Darkening of the Light
By Marie Walter
Author's note: This story is long! This story came about because I wanted to explore the events that happened immediately after the finale of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. I also wanted to tie a few plot threads together with the sequel, Soul Reaver. Hope you like it!
Night had fallen. Even from within the depths of the constantly dark and damp maze-like caves Alizana could tell it was so. The monsters and the dead that walked were becoming hungrier for flesh and blood...
I should have waited until the daylight hours. She told herself again pointlessly. This is almost too dangerous...
As if to confirm her fears a creature suddenly sprung out from one of the side passages. She ducked quickly, skilfully avoiding the talons that would have removed her head from her shoulders in a second, then, with fluid motion born of years of practice, she thrust her blade deep into the pulsating mass of the monster's torso. It let out a long gurgling growl then fell silent and still. A flood of putrid green blood flowed thickly from the gaping wound, filling the cave with a foul and nauseating stench.
"That was too close." She cursed herself for being startled by its attack. Zana, you have to be better than that or you are going to get yourself killed.
Words from memory. Not her words. Words spoken to her during a time that now seemed centuries ago. Painfully apt considering her situation. She smiled wearily to herself then moved over to throw the lever on the right hand wall. The north door locks clicked noisily open.
Think on it, would they want you to risk yourself like this? Probably not, but they weren't here to argue. Even Malek was gone now. She thought briefly of all the times that they had reprimanded her for her headstrong and reckless nature. In her mind she could almost hear their voices now, worried, concerned. She answered with a single desperate thought. Would you sit idly by if you knew what I know?!
As she continued she reflected on recent events. Every one of Nosgoth's institutions seemed to have been swept aside in just a few weeks, so much so that it didn't really feel like Nosgoth any more. Eight members of the legendary Circle of Nine destroyed, the Sarafan dying forever with Malek, and Vorador at last facing justice for his crimes. All gone...
I had waited so long to see Vorador dead...
Moebius asking her quietly from the scaffold "Are you now satisfied?" as the blade fell.
Yet it gave me no real pleasure to see his execution. It just reminded me of what he stole from me.
"I thank you for your aid, my Lord," she had answered with polite formality. "I owe you and your men a great debt."
I know I could not have succeeded alone, although I would likely have been fool enough to try one day.
For a mere second that day she had let herself believe that with Vorador's death it was finally over. That the legacy of the Blood Drinkers was at an end, and that her grief and suffering was not for nothing. How wrong she had been.
"He is the last." Alizana hadn't even been aware she had spoken it aloud but it jolted her back to the present again.
I thought you were going to be more careful.
She felt for the leather cord around her neck and drew out a key from under her clothing. After setting the mob on the vampire Kain, Moebius had handed it to her, saying only "He must not receive the gift of foresight just yet. There is a time and a place for everything. We are not to argue with destiny's plan."
She had tried to ask him exactly what he meant by that cryptic message, but he left without another word. Alizana had considered entering the fray herself then, but decided against it. Kain was doing very well by employing powerful magic and sword techniques. She could have been killed long before she ever got close enough for one on one combat. Hacked down by a hate-filled peasant? No, there would be another opportunity.
The key bore the unmistakable symbol of the time mage, the silver crafted into the never-ending curve of the infinity loop.
"We are not to argue with destiny's plan". What am I doing here if not trying to tear destiny's plan to pieces!
It had taken her three days to reach the abode of Moebius after the morning of the execution. Curiosity had already achieved a strong hold over her as to the key's purpose. This was heightened by the rumours she heard as she made her journey, stories of yet more deaths in the Circle of Nine. Moebius, Anacrothe and Mortanius had apparently fallen too, at the hands of a vampire. Kain, certainly. The people were likening it to the assault on the Circle by Vorador over half a century before.
"But Vorador could only manage six," they were saying. "And he was a slayer of the mighty Sarafan. He killed three of those Sarafan in total, you know, he even defeated the great Malek once too. What is this new one capable of?"
Few seemed to know it was Vorador who had killed Malek in the end, and not Kain. The ancient vampire had taken great pleasure in gloating of his achievement before the guards ushered him to his death.
"You may as well be dead yourself," he had snarled at her. "Now there's no one left who will mourn you the way you pine for them!"
"It seems like we do have something in common then," she had answered sharply. "There's no one left to mourn you either."
"Alizana, you disappoint me. Throwing your lot in with the miserable self-righteous masses. Your beloved Raziel would never have stooped so low." She had flinched at the insult, much to his obvious satisfaction. "Even your wretched brother Turel fought me like a man and true warrior. One on one." "But I am not a man, Vorador," she had responded, "and you deserved no such courtesy from me." She bent close to the bars and whispered conspiratorially. " Besides, I think we both know I wouldn't have stood a chance."
He had grimaced with bitter amusement as she walked away from his cell. "Of course," he conceded. "But I would have enjoyed it so much..."
The Oracle's cave was high up in the side of a mountain, but reachable without too much trouble if you were versed in teleportation magic. This was without a doubt the most useful gift she possessed, but she could only cover short distances before she became magically exhausted. Malek had taken the time to teach her when she resided in his bastion for a short while. It was by no means a unique skill; most of the Circle of Nine used it frequently and even Vorador...
Vorador had used it to ambush Turel, then Raziel only days later, throwing them both off guard just long enough to gain the upper hand and...
The cave housed the still burning cauldron, but nothing else. It had seemed like a dead end.
A key had to have a keyhole, so I searched... and found it by one of the cauldron structure's legs. Why didn't I just accept it was a dead end?
She had inserted the key and twisted it clockwise. There was a click, then a rumble of machinery. Suddenly the wall moved, shifting position to block the entrance and reveal an entirely new passage; a long, grey stoned corridor. I explored that corridor but after I reached the statue I realised there must be another way. An easier way... Moebius wouldn't spend time going through his own traps and locks.
There was no other visible path so she had gone back to the cauldron. She was going to open up the original entrance again, but something had made her turn the key clockwise a second time.
As before, the wall shifted, this time revealing a single spiral staircase, descending deep into the bowels of the mountain. This was what she had been searching for.
Looking back now, Alizana wished she had never progressed any further. It was easy to think that now with hindsight.
The question is, does knowing the future somehow make it definite? After all Moebius said "We are not to argue with destiny's plan" not "We cannot argue with destiny's plan".
She had emerged from a door bearing a carving of an angel with crossed swords. The new passage was floored with black marble and had a quality of quiet power, the like of which she had not seen in any other building in Nosgoth. Lamps hung decoratively from the walls. It was overwhelming in its opulence. She went left down the corridor and came across a strange window.
She had seen stars.
Stars through a window that was inside a mountain and it wasn't even dark outside!
The ridiculous impossibility of it had only made her look closer. And what she had seen had horrified her.
A vision of the future...please let my actions change it! Destiny?! It cannot be destiny that the noble guardians of Nosgoth are rewarded only with this, a fate a thousand times worse than oblivion! Mindless servitude to a monster for eternity? I would choose the abyss in a second, and so would they! The knights of years past, long entombed, and you, my Raziel and Turel, you know I cannot let this happen!
She had got out of that place within minutes, immediately resolute that everything in her power must be done to avert such an outcome. Now, after another two days fighting her way through forgotten labyrinthine caves she was almost at the tomb. She had refrained from using any magic to allow her power to grow.
There is not much I can do, except increase the magic wards in place here. Please let that be enough, please...
The caves opened up into an area of dense evergreen woodland and steep mountainous slopes. The Pillars of Nosgoth were located to the south, and to the east it became part of the Termogent Forest. Just as the trees had long concealed Vorador's mansion, so they sheltered the sacred resting place of the Sarafan warriors. The moonlight capped them with silver.
Alizana approached the towering standing stone at the tomb's entrance. The ward spells had been carved here originally when the knight Melchiah had been interred. She examined it from the adjacent steps.
Protect this place of holy worth and give peace eternal to those who rest within. Melchiah of the Sarafan, Angel of Light and Destroyer of Darkness, be blessed and guarded by these words.
The language of the ancient spells was nearly extinct, lost in Nosgoth's past, save for a few scattered practitioners. She was one of the last remaining people who could read the stone, let alone add to it. Even the Sarafan themselves would not have understood it, although they knew of its intent. The powerful prayer had been repeated for every subsequent burial. Only the names had changed.
Zephon, Rahab, Dumah...
Malek's first apprentice Melchiah had fought and died around seventy years ago. He and Zephon had been battling on that very day Vorador attacked the Circle of Nine. Malek always had two warriors by his side in the following years, almost like a tradition. Melchiah and Zephon, Zephon and Rahab, Rahab and Dumah...
...Then Turel and Raziel...
She suppressed the thought and tried to concentrate on the task at hand. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, resting her hands on the inscribed stone.
Suddenly her eyes shot open and she exhaled in a panic.
HE'S HERE! Too late! It's too late!
Sword in hand, she entered the tomb as fast as she could, barely noticing the wards gave only the slightest resistance.
The protection had already been ripped to shreds by another.
The huge stone block that usually sealed the inner chamber had been pulled out and pushed to the side. She could hear him working inside, the scrape of a heavy coffin lid being lifted. Then the noise stopped abruptly, and steady steps were echoed clearly as he started to cross the chamber. He seemed to pause briefly in the centre as if contemplating his next move.
So soon...I was too hasty, I should have found out more. I know nothing of how this night will play out, only the foretold outcome in a distant century...
What can I do?!
Alizana knew she couldn't wait any longer, no matter how foolish it was to attempt an attack. Kain was possibly the most powerful creature in Nosgoth. A head on confrontation would be suicidal. She quickly teleported instead, hoping the element of surprise would work in her favour.
She materialised behind him and managed to land a blow with her blade across his spine, sufficient to cripple a mortal man. He roared, but more with anger and shock than on account of his injury. Instinctively he spun, striking her violently enough to send her flying across the room, her back slamming hard against the protruding edge of Rahab's sarcophagus. She screamed as she hit, her head snapping backwards with the impact. She slid to the ground, broken and engulfed in blinding pain.
With choking sobs she tried twice to stand, collapsing pitifully, but through the haze of scarlet agony she realised her sword was still clasped tightly in her fist. It seemed out of his line of sight.
Her mind could only form one coherent thought.
Just come a bit closer, you bastard, and I'll shove this up through your skull!
Kain looked at her with interest. He hadn't realised his assailant was a girl until he had heard her cry out. Now she stared at him venomously from the floor.
If looks could kill, my dear...
A pretty girl, young, barely out of her teens, with long brown hair and dark eyes. Vaguely familiar, although he couldn't quite recall where he had seen her before. She knew how to handle a sword, an unusual trait in any of Nosgoth's females, and she had a reason for being here, no doubt. A mystery indeed.
"Stupid child", he sneered, concealing his curiosity. "What makes you think you could succeed where all others have failed?"
"There is nothing for you here, vampire. Begone and never pollute this place with your unholy presence again!" He could hear a tremor behind the impressive malice of her voice. She was hopelessly maimed, of course, but he wasn't sure that the agony was purely physical.
"You are the guardian of this sepulchre?"
"The dead cannot show their disgust at your intrusion, Kain. I can."
"For all the good it has done you. You would give up your life just to show your displeasure?" he smiled wryly. "I think you are a poor liar, young one. What is your real purpose?"
"What is yours?" She inhaled sharply as a spasm shook her body.
"I asked the question first," he retorted with amusement, "and it doesn't look as if you are in any fit state to argue that point."
"Fine then," she hissed. "I'll tell you why you are here, although you will not admit it. You came in order to have a victory over the Sarafan the only way you ever could. Malek shamed you with defeat, and any one of the knights buried here could have slaughtered you in a second if they lived still..."
"Like you almost did?" he interrupted, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"You are a coward Kain, unworthy even of the guillotine!"
In that instant he recognised her. She had been at the execution of Vorador, but not just as a spectator. An accomplice of Moebius...but there was still something missing, another memory just beyond his reach.
"A female Sarafan...?"
"I have never claimed that honour, miscreant!"
"Honour?!" Kain stood upright, his expression a mask of distaste and hatred. "You think honour drove them to hunt and kill as they did. No. They were as bloodthirsty and immoral as any vampire. Worse even. At least we make no effort to disguise our true nature!"
"How dare you!" she shouted, wincing at the effort.
"Did you even know these men whose memory you defend so senselessly?" She broke his eye contact and stared at the wall. She gazed blankly past him at the stirring shadow play cast by the burning tomb lamps.
"It does not matter whether I knew them or not." She said quietly, but angrily. "Their valour is beyond question." She let out a short scornful laugh. "Of course you dispute it, demon."
"You are right," he said offhandedly. "It does not matter. You will soon get see for yourself just how true my words are..."
"What do you mean?" She choked the words out.
I know what you mean...
"An experiment." He made a sweeping gesture with his arm around the room. "Thanks to the efforts of the Sarafan, Mobius and yourself, I am the last of my kind. That is going to change."
He intends to do it. But how?
"It is impossible to revive one even a week in the grave!" She said as fiercely as she could manage. "These bodies have lain here for years!" She felt a small measure of relief as she remembered the detail of the sordid practice. "Their souls are far beyond your reach, Kain!"
He's smiling, why is he smiling...?
Suddenly there was a sound. A sound of movement, yet neither she nor Kain had stirred an inch.
"You think so...?" He said with satisfaction.
The look on her face was wonderful, although slightly puzzling. He had expected horror, fear and anguish, and while she certainly didn't disappoint on those counts, there was also a hint of resignation, as if... ...as if she already knew it was going to happen.
The lid of the central sarcophagus was moving, slid from the inside. The first of his new sons was waking to an unexpected treat.
But such a rare vintage cannot be passed up completely...
He wanted to taste her himself first, let the truth of her come out in the blood. All things could be known, simply by dipping into that river of a person's being. Blood and soul were inescapably linked. He imagined this soul would be among the more intriguing Nosgoth had to offer.
He walked slowly over to the girl who seemed not to even notice his approach; such was the extent of her distraction.
An error of judgement. She turned without warning, firing a bolt of pure energy into his stomach at point blank range. Ionised air crackled around them.
The blast burned with a familiar sting, but it was far from fatal. It only winded him, momentarily causing him to stoop forwards.
He intercepted it as the blade was about to penetrate this throat. Kain dragged her up, viciously twisting her arm behind her back and wrenched the weapon from her grasp. Her legs, unable to support her, gave way causing her to collapse shaking and sobbing to her knees.
"A worthy last attempt child," he murmured, slightly taken aback by her persistence. "But you will pay for it with your life."
"My fate was already decided, as was theirs. Damn you Mobius!" She cried exhaustedly. She didn't resist as he pulled her up again. "I tried to stop it, I tried..."
Perhaps I am not the only one who was taken in by the enigmatist. Kain pondered silently.
He would manipulate even his allies, but to what possible end...
One of his arms circled her waist, holding her up and clutching her sword, the other held her left arm outstretched. Without letting her drop, he drew the blade quickly across her wrist. Blood welled up from the wound and flowed in a thick stream, splashes staining the floor crimson. He touched his lips to the flow, extending tendrils of thought deep into her mind.
And found the soul was one he had met before...
In the bowels of that black forest, I found something worse than hell. A vision of what I was becoming...
Vorador had offered the goblet that day in a gesture of vampiric kinship, a gift that had been received with gratitude. Blood had been scarce in a lair that housed so many undead. Never once had Kain spared pity for the tortured and disfigured prisoner who hung suspended from the ceiling like a macabre trophy. He had barely even noticed the newly dead corpse was female, but the blood had still retained a faint sensation of the victim's essence.
A sensation he was experiencing again now!
Kain pulled away, bewildered and confused. Because he killed King William the Just in the past, how many more of his memories were now false? The implications of it were staggering.
I could have returned to find the Circle restored to a corrupt whole. That was not an idea he wanted to entertain, but it had been a possibility. His actions had certainly, in part, spawned the mob of vampire hunters he had encountered in this altered present. This meant the girl had not faced Vorador alone as she was destined to, instead she had delayed the assault until Moebius ordered them to join her effort. Vorador had been denied his victory and prize, winning only an appointment with oblivion.
A vision of what I was becoming...
He looked at her. It was a tragedy. Unknowingly he had saved her from a brutal and agonising death at the hands of the master vampire, only to inflict the same on her again. Was he still deluding himself that he was any better than Vorador? And who was she, that she hastened her own end by confronting monsters like him time after time? Was there no one to pull her back from the line where bravery became insanity? He felt sorry for her, despite himself.
"Their souls were still here," he said softly. "The spell designed to defend served only to bind them to this place. An ironic mistake, but not your fault."
He was offering comfort? A poor attempt at atonement.
She gave no indication of having heard him, although she was still breathing. Her head was tilted back against his chest and her eyes were closed.
She would have made a beautiful vampire...
You are a fool to think it, Kain! You would show mercy and give this power to another one who would have you dead in a heartbeat?
His bruised spine protested along with his reason. Pity was a human weakness he could no longer afford. He had underestimated her from the beginning. She was vulnerable now, allowing complacency, but he had seen enough to realise she would never remain under his thrall. Unlike the others, her memories would be dangerously intact.
As a human her strength had been surprising. As a vampire she could be devastating.
There was a loud crash as the Sarafan Raziel finally threw off the lid of his coffin, tempted out inevitably by the scent of the spilled blood. A small sound from a different part of the tomb signalled that another would soon join him. Turel. It seemed those most recently dead were easier to pull back to the material realm. He stumbled towards Kain with the clumsy manner of a drunk, but with a keen bestial hunger in his eyes. Kain relinquished his ward, but with a slight notable reluctance.
He walked out of the chamber to wait in the hall outside. He did not want to watch as Raziel fed.
She met his embrace, wrapping her arms tightly around him as he pulled her close.
"You may as well be dead yourself. Now there's no one left who will mourn you the way you pine for them!"
It was true.
Except for Kain himself, there was no one who even knew she existed anymore, and he would not grieve for her, she was certain of that. She was alone, so utterly alone, but now, for just a short while, she could convince herself it wasn't so. Kain could not have understood the paradox of the extremes of cruelty and kindness he had shown her by bringing this one back from the abyss.
I missed you, so much I missed you...
She opened tear-filled eyes to behold the man she had loved and lost two long years ago. He looked just as she remembered, the fine, strong features of his face, the ice blue eyes...
The soft flickering glow of the tomb lamps was creating the illusion of colour on his deathly pale skin.
Death masquerading as humanity, the light of life forever darkened, impure...
It was all an illusion.
She knew it, and she disregarded it. It was not important that those blue eyes would soon become amber, like those of an owl, or that dust of the grave hung on his unbound ebony hair. She raised her hand, twisting and stroking the silken strands with her fingertips. He had been born with it, but vampires almost invariably had raven black hair as they grew older. Her brother's would turn like this in time. Adoring and protective Turel, who had always shared far too many of her impulsive traits.
"Look after Turel for me," she breathed almost silently.
Alizana was lost in the moment. And in that moment she thought she saw a glimmer of recognition cross his passive expression. It was there, and then it was gone.
His gaze shifted from hers and he tore into her throat. Her back arched and a stifled cry escaped her lips, but she didn't feel the pain more than a second before she felt the release, her eyes closing a final time.
Until we meet again, my love...I know you will not remember me...
Dawn approached and Kain sent his six sons out into the world without him. There was one last thing he had to do, no matter how unlike him it was.
As he filled in the last of the makeshift grave, he realised he hadn't even known her name. Knew nothing about her really. He was past regret for any of his actions, but there was an undeniable uneasiness that would take a while to lift. The weight of destiny. Nosgoth was his now, and his alone, but no matter what path he took from here, he knew that the memory of this night was another that would linger forever in his mind. He didn't like how much it had affected him.
Not quite the merciless tyrant yet then, he mused coldly.
He stood and turned to leave, looking again at the key he had retrieved from her body; the blood soaked cord wrapped tightly around his fingers. Moebius's interference in this was as evident as his emblem. Had she known the future as he claimed to? Was it truly as certain as they would have had him believe?
A mystery indeed... and one he had an eternity to understand.
Author's ending note: I did warn you! It's a bit depressing for my first attempt at a fanfic, but the Kain series is excellent and it seemed a little bit overlooked. I thought that the resurrection of the Sarafan was such a key event in the storyline that it needed to be written about. The rest grew from there. I just hope the next game doesn't contradict my fic too much. Thanx for reading it.